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Pentagon approves 700 unarmed National Guard troops to help D.C. manage expected truck 'convoys'

The Defense Department said late Tuesday that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin had approved the deployment of 700 National Guard troops to help manage traffic in and around Washington, D.C., as it prepares for a possible cavalcade of big rigs and other vehicles modeled after the "Freedom Convoy" in Canada. The 400 D.C. Guard members and 300 from other states will not carry firearms, take part in law enforcement, or conduct any domestic surveillance, the Pentagon said.

Several groups are organizing convoys to Washington in online forums, aimed at pressuring President Biden to end any remaining COVID-19 restrictions or requirements. The District of Columbia's government and U.S. Capitol Police had requested the deployment. 

The trucker convoy in Ottawa, Canada's capital, paralyzed much of the city for 23 days until an amalgamation of police forces pushed them out last weekend. "It remains to be seen if any of the U.S. convoys would seek to actively shut down Washington's streets," The Associated Press reports. Some organizers insist the plan is to blockade the Beltway that encircles the capital. 

Mike Landis, an organizer of the proposed People's Convoy, said it is open to all vehicles and its goal is to force Biden to lift the national state of emergency that former President Donald Trump declared in March 2020. "We do not want to be under a dictatorship communism-style regime, like where we are right now," he said in a video testimonial.